How to Choose the Best Tablet PC

First off, let's understand what the Tablet PC is. The tablet PC is a combination of the notebook and the PDA. The tablet PC is the perfect gizmo for those who want the mobility of a notebook and the technology of a PDA, and for those who can afford it, because the Tablet PC does not come cheap. There are two types of Tablet PCs, the Convertible and Slate. 

Convertible Tablet PCs are the ones that look like laptops or notebooks but scan be swiveled or folded. The Slate Tablet PCs are those that have to keyboard. It's just a display screen and that's it. Both types of Tablet PCs use special versions of Windows XP that are designed for navigation and using a stylus (in lieu of a key board). The memory is also not something to joke about in the Tablet PC; high memory capacity lets you store anything and everything. Let's not forget about its technical design that allows for easy mobile compatibility. And this is not all; the whole concept of the Tablet PC is created keeping in mind the style conscious and technology eager generation of today.

And don't think that only those who are techno whizzes can use a tablet PC, the tablet PC is quite simple to use, almost like a laptop just more advanced. The benefit of the tablet PC is that its portable and allows for easy surfing, which is what makes it so popular. You can carry it easily cause of its sleek design and lightweight and you can set it up anywhere. Any child, man or woman can use a tablet PC and for those who think they can't, the user manual is so simple you want scream with joy for being able to understand what they are talking about.

Tips for choosing the best Tablet PC

While looking out for a tablet PC, here are some tips that will help you choose the best Table PC:
  • Look for a PC that allows for flexibility, this means you can use the digital pen, stylus or a mobile keyboard. It should also be able to switch from Tablet PC to Notebook PC quite simply.
  • Handwriting capability should allow you to write and store information with digital ink and Windows Journal.
  • Ensure that it is easily portable, it should be ultra-thin and light; about 3 pounds and less than one inch thick.
  • Battery life should be long, over four hours is considered a good battery life.
  • Look for tablet PCs with speech recognition software.
  • Make sure it has the latest in wireless capability that is an integrated wireless LAN 802.11b and Bluetooth PAN.
  • Look for the audio system; it should include built-in speakers, headset adaptor, microphone input and the facility to attach external speakers.
  • Check for the inputs, pen, keyboard and pointstick are necessary.
  • Docking systems should allow for easy transitions with multi-monitor docking profiles and also come with 4 USB 2.0 ports and MultiBay.
Tablet PC features to consider

Here are some of the features that are considered a must in all Tablet PCs:
  • Mobile Intel® Celeron® (ULV) or Intel® Pentium® (ULV) is a must.
  • A powerful operating system like the Microsoft® Windows® XP Tablet PC Edition.
  • A processor speed of 1.0 GHz.
  • A memory of up to 2 GB.
  • 30 or 60 GB Smart Hard Drives.
  • Ports and Connectors should be inclusive of 2 USB 2.0 RJ-45 (NIC), RJ-11 Modem, VGA internal 802.11b integrated wireless LAN and Bluetooth PAN, 1 ea. PCMCIA slot, 1 ea. Compact flash slot.

Bitcoins & The Future Of Online Currency

Making sense of the premiere Internet currency with Bitcoin Lead Core Developer, Gavin Andresen.

Bitcoins are not mere drug currency.
Bitcoins are not failing.
Are we clear about that?
The future of online commerce looks to rely less and less on the physical amount of money you have in your bank accounts and wallets and more on what you could call “digital” wallets: online reservoirs where you store money. Really, we already use some variation of a digital wallet, we just don’t easily acknowledge it. You work, you get paid via direct deposit, numbers change in your checking account, you use debit and credit cards to make transactions, you go back to work. Rinse, repeat. You hardly ever see cash unless you deliberately withdraw it from an ATM. Anymore, our money consists of strings of number values running through some computer located who knows where. We just confidently assume that all that money is actually staying or going where it should be staying or going.
While that describes our current model of commerce, it also serves as a fair portrait of Bitcoins, the emerging currency exclusive to the Internet.
Essentially, Bitcoins are an intangible currency, really no different in action than the numbers bouncing up and down in your bank account. Alternately, instead of representing sums of physical currency, Bitcoins are literally a majestic sequence of unique numbers that can be traded for goods. Instead of swapping wads of bound fibers and inks that are woven together into this germy thing we call cash, Bitcoins exist in a purely digital tapestry. It’s an experiment in decentralized currency, but it’s been a good experiment and it doesn’t show any signs of disappearing anytime soon. To find out more about the current state of Bitcoins and what will happen with them in the near (and far) future, I got in touch with Gavin Andresen, the Lead Core Bitcoin Developer, about the developments of the past year regarding Bitcoins and why this novel currency could feature prominently in the future of online commerce.

Bitcoins: A Primer

Money as an object is meaningless. It’s paper and and some inks and, thanks to people, lots of bacteria. It’s an arbitrary token that merely represents a commercial promissory value people can earn in exchange for goods or services that can then either be saved or spent on other goods or services. Dollars, euros, yen, pounds, rupees, tobacco leaves, rands – it doesn’t matter what object you invest value into, it’s the idea behind the currency that buttresses its value. The Bitcoin is no different.
The only difference is that, as opposed to physical money that you’ll stuff into your pockets and wallets, you will likely never actually hold a Bitcoin (yes, there are physical versions of Bitcoins if you absolutely must have a real version to thumb around in your palms). Just because you’re likely to never touch one, though, doesn’t mean that Bitcoins are any less valuable than the bills you have folded up in your right pocket. Instead, think of it like this: you are no more likely to hold a Bitcoin in your hand than you are to hold Pythagoras’ theorem in your hand.
What does distinguish this disembodied currency from its corporeal familiars, however, is that Bitcoins are not dependent on anything except the people who produce and use it. No governments, no banks, no organizations – just people. A truly anarchistic, peer-to-peer currency.
For a simplified explanation for how the Bitcoin market works on a consumer level, have a look at this video put together by We Use Coins.
The currency, however, doesn’t just fall into your lap like a prize from a cereal box, nor is it just magically conjured up from the imagination like the latest Internet meme. The production of Bitcoins is best explained through the simile of gold mining. Instead of boring through a mountain to unearth precious metals, new Bitcoins are generated by unlocking a mathematical sequence called a block chain and are doled out in increments of 50. The people that produce these Bitcoins, then, are known as miners (that’s actually the technical term for Bitcoin producers, too, not just a metaphorical descriptor). These miners, however, have traded in their helmets and pickaxes in exchange for loads of GPU firepower and very sophisticated software capable of deciphering the block chains. The software works in tandem across a network to solve these cryptographic proofs and the miner who is the first to solve the block chain will receive the 50 Bitcoins. Once a block chain has been unlocked, it is added to a ledger in order to prevent those Bitcoins from double-spending.
Eventually, as more blocks are solved, fewer Bitcoins will be generated because the block chains will be worth fewer new coins. Solving a block chain today is worth 50 new Bitcoins, but as of this December that reward will be reduced to 25 Bitcoins. Some time off in the future, it will be reduced again to 12.5. The gradual reduction in rewards works to mitigate the generation of new Bitcoins so as to avoid flooding the market, which would result in a devalued currenby.
As more miners work to generate Bitcoins, the difficulty in unlocking the block chains increases so as ensure that a new block is generated only every 10 minutes on average. The increased difficulty of unlocking a block chain’s sequence is designed in such a way that, over time, the maximum capacity of Bitcoins that will be generated will be 21 million. Added to the multiplied difficulty of solving subsequent block chains, more and more computer power is required, which some have said could be a deterrent for would-be miners from working on the more difficult block chains. Andresen disagrees with the argument that hardware needs are becoming preventive. “Mining Bitcoins is becoming increasingly energy efficient,” he says. “Bitcoin miners want to pay as little as they can for electricity, so they’re constantly working to make mining more efficient.”
Energy requirements wouldn’t really matter in the grand scheme of Bitcoin production anyways, Andresen explains, as the Bitcoin production process is smart enough to adjust for variations in the miner work force. “The Bitcoin system adjusts itself so that the target number of Bitcoins are created about every 10 minutes, no matter how many miners there are.”
He adds, “The number of Bitcoin miners has almost nothing to do with how quickly Bitcoin transactions are processed, so it doesn’t matter to the Bitcoin system how much energy or how many miners are working – as long as there is one, the system will work.”
The production of Bitcoins isn’t infinite, though. In fact, there is a fixed amount that will ever be produced: 21 million. Although that peak Bitcoin mark isn’t expected to be reached until 2140, the number of Bitcoins generated will begin to taper off toward zero well before that, at which point miners will then be compensated with Bitcoin transaction fees. As the generation of Bitcoins decreases over time, the cost of a transaction using Bitcoins will increase, which these blocks exist to verify. In lieu of transaction fees, though, Andresen postulates that miners could also be compensated by a “more complicated arrangement between merchants that want their transactions confirmed quickly and securely.” One way or another, though, the monetary reward for generating Bitcoins will always be present.
As of this year, over 8 million Bitcoins have been generated. The first block of Bitcoins to be unlocked was completed by Satoshi Nakamoto, who could be considered the progenitor of Bitcoins. As Wired Magazine’s Benjamin Wallace covered extensively in a piece about bitcoins last year, Nakamoto might be best understood as the Tyler Durden of the Bitcoin culture. An effluvium of mystery envelopes Nakamoto as no one is certain of who he is or where he came from or, most intriguing, where he disappeared to following his last public communication near the end of 2010. It’s rumored the name was a pseudonym or that Nakamoto was actually a collective of developers. It’s even been suggested that Nakamoto was a nom de guerre for assorted bodies of the United States government. Nobody knows, and every major player in the Bitcoin industry denies being Nakamoto.
At this point, though, as the Bitcoin system is beginning to become more stabilized and the project is on the cusp of transcending any one person, does the origin of Bitcoins really matter anymore? It’s been around long enough to confidently assess that dealing in Bitcoins is likely not some kind of Faustian gamble. Besides, one of the prominent features of Bitcoins is its near-anonymity of the users who deal with it, a quality celebrated by Bitcoin proponents. If the currency users are mostly anonymous, why then shouldn’t the progenitor of Bitcoins be anonymous, too? If the shoe fits, right? We could all be Nakamoto and none of us would be Nakamoto. To obsess over the origin of Bitcoins threatens to belie the hard work that the currency’s current legion of developers are doing in order to bolster Bitcoins into a formidable, viable option for online commerce.

The Problem With Bitcoins

The Bitcoin has had a tumultuous twelve months. Perhaps its biggest mainstream debut to date happened in June 2011 when Gawker’s Adrian Chen published a piece about the underbelly of the Internet, the Silk Road, where you can buy, among other things, any fashion of drugs (drugs I didn’t even think existed anymore) one desires. Because of the anonymity that accompanies the use of Bitcoins, the Silk Road trades exclusively in the currency. As Gawker’s story was many people’s introduction to Bitcoins, the piece carelessly marginalized it as The Currency for underground drug trafficking on the Internet.
Regardless of Gawker’s oversights, Bitcoins blew up. The value of Bitcoins skyrocketed after Chen’s piece began to circulate and inspire interest in legions of new potential customers of Silk Road. Consequently, Senator Chuck Schumer called for a federal investigation into the Silk Road in order to hopefully shut it down. Now that the Bitcoin market had attracted the attention of the United States government, the popularity of the currency continued skyward.
The boom was short-lived, though, as it was not an organic and sustainable growth. It was an artificial trend born from a sudden onslaught of sensational media attention that ballooned the value of the currency. Being at the mercy of the public’s caprice, though, the value of Bitcoins crashed back to Earth a month later. By August, it had returned to its pre-Gawker levels.
Five months after the Gawker piece, Wired was preparing the toe-tags for Bitcoins, citing the currency’s sustainability problems and increasing lack of interest in the continued production of Bitcoins.
Andresen concurs that Bitcoins were pushed out onto the main stage long before the system was ready to handle that kind of attention. “We had a press avalanche last year,” he says, “Where the first couple of mainstream articles about Bitcoin caught the attention of other reporters, who in turn also wrote about it, which then triggered even more press.”
He continues, “That was both great and terrible for the project: great because it drew a lot more technical and business talent to look at Bitcoin and start Bitcoin-related projects, but terrible because when people realized that Bitcoin still has a lot of growing up to do, the speculative bubble popped.”
It’s misleading to say that Bitcoins failed because of that popped bubble. True, investing in Bitcoins currently isn’t as profitable as it was for a brief period last year, but that kind of inflation was artificially generated and really should never have happened in the first place. More, it’s probably not the last time the Bitcoin will encounter some heavy turbulence. “I think it is very likely the same thing will happen again sometime in the next few years as other parts of the world discover Bitcoin or it is re-discovered in Europe and the U.S.,” Andresen says. “I expect the wild price fluctuations to diminish over time as Bitcoin infrastructure grows up and speculators start to get a better idea of the real value of Bitcoin.”
That’s Money 101 for you, though: the potent volatility of supply and demand working upon, for better or worse, the unpredictable engines of human interest. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that, most obviously, people already have a form (if not multiple forms) of currency, which has likely created an erroneous impression for the laity that Bitcoins are a second-class currency.
Then again, Bitcoins were never really intended to launch like an unstoppable money-missile into the future. Nakamoto, Andresen, and other Bitcoin developers have always cautioned investors that Bitcoins should at best be considered an experiment. “I tell people to only invest time or money in Bitcoin that they can afford to lose,” Andresen says. “There are a lot of things that could possibly derail it, ranging from some fundamental flaw in the algorithm that everybody has missed (he doesn’t see this as a likely possibility at this point) to world-wide government regulation (also unlikely, he says) to some alternative rising up and replacing Bitcoin.”
In a way, the story thus far of Bitcoins as an unpredictable investment is the quintessential story of the Internet as a whole. Every prominent company that currently claims a seat among the pantheon of technology giants – Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, IBM, et al. – has come into that position due to the rise and fall of previous online ventures. The lessons gleaned from the decline of previous companies like the Myspaces and Friendsters and Lycos is likely the only reason the current generation of tech leaders have managed to prevail for so long. In the end, the diminished presence of these companies is less a woeful tale of failure and more a triumphant testament to how resilient and efficient the evolution of ideas has been on the Internet, especially in such a short amount of time.
With Bitcoins, it remains to be seen if it will eventually be minted as a mainstay in online culture or merely serve as an early milestone in the continuing evolution of online currency. Andresen is optimistic, though, that Bitcoins are here to stay even in light of competing online currencies possibly popping up in the future. “I think to overcome Bitcoin’s head-start, an alternative will either have to have a large company or government backing it and marketing it. Or else, it will have to be radically better in some way,” he says.
“There seems to be a perception that Bitcoin is in a winner-take-all race against other currencies; either everybody in the world will be using it for all of their online purchases in 50 years or it will not exist. I think the online payment world will like our current world of currencies – different currencies used in different places. The online payments won’t be divided by geography, though it might be divided by language or culture or social network.”
As it were, the currency network’s public image may have taken a bruising last year, but the reports of Bitcoin’s demise appear to have been exaggerated.

The Currency of the Future?

For now, the Bitcoin experiment appears to have weathered the Great Media Blitzkrieg of 2011. Bitcoins’ value is once again growing at the organic rate it was intended to grow at. So… to 2140 and beyond, right?
“I’m not even going to try to predict what will happen in the year 2140,” Andresen is quick to say. His focus is more attuned to the more immediate future of Bitcoins. “In December of this year, the Bitcoin will be 4 years old and the number of new Bitcoins produced will be cut in half. I think we will learn a lot when that happens and that will give some insight into what will happen over the years as Bitcoin production slowly drops to zero.”
Like any model of currency, it’d be a risk to really put all of your eggs into the Bitcoins basket. The currency could have long-term staying power. Then again, it could exist as a prototype that ends up producing a more advanced model of online currency and eventually be supplanted by something like a Bitcoin 2.0, for lack of a better term. Either way, some version of Bitcoin will continue to grow and become a part of our future experience with online commerce.
“I think there will eventually be one dominant currency that is used for 80% of worldwide online transactions,” Andresen predicts, “but I think there will always be alternatives. The most likely outcome in my lifetime, the next 40 years or so, is most people will use their national currencies when purchasing goods and services from other people in their own countries but will use something else for international payments.”
Naturally, as Bitcoins continue to evolve, developers like Andresen are working hard at ensuring the private security of Bitcoin users. Andresen says his past six months have been spent building “multi-signature transactions” for the Bitcoin network. He explains the multi-signature security feature as thus: “They are kind of like if you took all of the paper money in your wallet and then tore it in half and put half in your safe deposit box and kept the other half in your house. A robber would have to break into both your house and your safe deposit box to steal your money.”
You’d be hard pressed to find that kind of security with your current stash of cash if for nothing else but because it would be ungodly inconvenient for the consumer, to say nothing of the ambitious thief. Andresen says that’s one of the major advantages Bitcoins will have over our current terrestrial currency: you can conjunctively store your Bitcoins in two places at once so that in order to use them, a person would need access to both storage sites. One location where you might store your Bitcoins could be a secure website run by a bank which acts as the proverbial safe deposit box for Bitcoins whereas the other could be your computer or smartphone.
“To steal your Bitcoins, thieves would have to break into both your computer or smartphone andyour bank. And, it would be impossible for anybody at the bank to steal them without first breaking into your computer.”
The infrastructure for this multi-signature security technology is still in production, he says, but he expects that by the end of this year “there will be easy-to-use, incredibly secure and convenient solutions for storing and spending Bitcoins.”
With that kind of unprecedented level of security, it’s even possible that in the future Bitcoins might become a wise means for stashing your savings.
While the security advances will likely be a strong draw for future Bitcoin investors, perhaps of equal importance to the gradual growth of Bitcoins will be its acceptance as a form of payment with more online businesses, but that’s all in due time. As the reliability and legitimacy of Bitcoins is developed over time, don’t be surprised to see more online businesses begin accepting it. For now, though, the goal is to nurse the Bitcoin economy to a level where it will persevere the next blizzard of media attention the developers anticipate in the coming years. It’s possible Bitcoins may endure another “rise-and-fall” inflation in the future, but hopefully it won’t so easily shake the faith of the masses, at least as badly as last year’s roller coaster appears to have done.
In the meantime and in-between time, reconsider what those figures in your bank account really mean to you. You might see dollars or whatever your country’s currency happens to be, but the reality is that what you’re using these days intrinsically isn’t so far removed from Bitcoins. The Bitcoin experiment may or may not survive to 2140 but even if the Bitcoin itself were to disappear, the very idea of it is powerful enough that the development of an online currency will undoubtedly continue.

Leaked Microsoft Document Provides Roadmap For Major Products

Leaked images show release dates for Internet Explorer 10, Microsoft Office 15.

An apparent roadmap showing Microsoft’s plans for future products has been leaked. The images show Microsoft’s release plans for numerous products, including Internet Explorer, Windows Phone, and Office 15.
The images were posted to Twitter last week by Maarten Visser, who apparently got them from Microsoft’s Partner Network. The first shows information about upcoming versions of Microsoft Office and related software. According to the chart, Office 15 will be available in beta sometime in the middle of this year, with public availability coming in early 2013.
Microsoft Office Roadmap
The second image shows some data about Windows-related products, including Internet Explorer. It looks like Internet Explorer 10 is set for a summer release, coinciding loosely with the beta release of Office 15.
Microsoft Windows Roadmap
Interestingly, though the Windows 8 developer preview and the end of service for Windows XPare noted, the release date for Windows 8 is absent. The developer preview of Windows 8 was released late last year, while the consumer preview launched in February. There is no official word on a release date, though speculation has centered on the late third quarter.
[H/T: ZDNet]

Tech Corruption in China [Infographic]

Counterfeiting, knock-offs, fake Apple Stores, cybercrime

Tech Corruption in China [Infographic]
A new chart illustrates the love/hate relationship China has with technology. Having the largest internet user base in the world, along with a country-wide firewall, China has been at odds with the internet, as well as all sorts of corruption surrounding counterfeit technology, product knock-offs, cybercrime, etc.
Shanzhai, the Chinese outfit that copies Apple products, and maker of the D-Pad and the E-Pad, is blamed for taking part in cutting into 2.1 million U.S. jobs, at a loss of $48 billion in legitimate sales. So far, 22 completely fake Apple stores have been uncovered in China, featuring employees that actually believe their paychecks are coming from Cupertino, and there is no word on whether the fronts are selling real iOS products, Shanzhai knock-offs or straight counterfeits. And, the fact that Chinese counterfeiters operate so freely goes to show that the country’s intellectual property laws are a bit more loose than those in the U.S.
Chinese users of its version of Facebook presently outnumber the entire population of the United States, and cybercrime is rampant – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was hacked in 2010, promopting many companies to disallow employees visiting China from bringing mobile devices along, for fear of information being compromised.
Hat tip to Web Hosting Geeks

Strategist: Law is “great first step” for boosting economy

Last week, President Obama signed into law the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, more commonly known as the JOBS Act. The White House administration is hoping that small businesses and startups will drive recovery and create new jobs.
In a press release the White House released, the President said:
“America’s high-growth entrepreneurs and small businesses play a vital role in creating jobs and growing the economy. I’m pleased Congress took bipartisan action to pass this bill.  These proposals will help entrepreneurs raise the capital they need to put Americans back to work and create an economy that’s built to last.”
What do you think the JOBS Act will do for small businesses and startups? Please share.
The bill covers several provisions, but the most prominent one is “crowdfunding.” Under this element, startups and small businesses can solicit the general public for investment, which democratizes funding efforts.
Michael McGeary, Strategist at Hattery LabsMichael McGeary, who is a strategist with venture capital firm Hattery Labs, worked with lawmakers on this bill and told us that crowdfunding was the “#1 way for direct benefits as the bill rolls out.”
“It’s gonna make it available for people all over the country to give what they can to a startup they believe in and get equity in return, which will help on both sides,” he said.
Crowdfunding will specifically help those startups that don’t need millions of dollars but that still need some to get their feet of the ground. McGeary said it would help startups become companies more quickly and also give them more growth potential. He also told us that he expects to see more companies such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo as the JOBS Act is rolled out.
While some people have questioned the impact of crowdfunding on traditional funding methods, McGeary doesn’t believe they will be harmed in any way. In fact, he believes they will be enhanced by crowdfunding.
“Crowdfunding is not going to utterly change that system,” he said. “All it’s gonna do is make it better for more people to get more ideas to the marketplace faster.”
He went on to say that it would draw in a wider community to what’s happening in the Silicon Valley because more people will be involved. This will furthermore help to create a more transparent startup economy since the community will be bigger and more diverse.
The JOBS Act will also lighten the regulatory hurdles that small businesses must go through in the expansion of “mini public offerings” and the creation of an “IPO On-Ramp.” These provisions will not only eliminate forced IPOs, but it will also speed up the process for businesses to grow at a faster rate.
Despite the strong bipartisan support, there has been some opposition to the bill. In a post inRolling Stone entitled “Why Obama’s JOBS Act Couldn’t Suck Worse,” Matt Taibbi discusses the fraud and scams that could take place in the stock market as a result of the law:
“In fact, one could say this law is not just a sweeping piece of deregulation that will have an increase in securities fraud as an accidental, ancillary consequence. No, this law actually appears to have been specifically written to encourage fraud in the stock markets.”
The Huffington Post also pointed to the dissatisfaction of the labor parties suggesting that the White House chose the tech community to alleviate concerns raised over the SOPA outbreak in January. Others have indicated that the law could open the door for weak IPOs.
McGeary, however, told us that he does not believe the negatives outweigh the positives. According to him, the people who are advocating the law are adamant on its success and, therefore, are determined to keep fraud away.
“There’s no investment without risk,” McGeary said.
“If bad actors do enter the system and fraud does start to proliferate through the crowdfunding system, there’s gonna be a movement afoot in Washington very quickly to make sure that any regulations that have to be changed or augmented in that way, will happen swiftly,” he added.
While McGeary believes the JOBS Act is a “great first step,” he believes that more needs to be done in terms of the startup community, especially in the areas of long term STEM education and spectrum and broadband patents.
The SEC is currently requesting feedback on the law, as it contemplates potential regulatory measures.
Do you see more concerns or benefits with the JOBS Act? Let us know in the comments.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Decentralization

A central command structure derives from an autocratic style of management. Autocracy is not necessarily an intention and could be incidental. For example, typically start-ups and business that have just been founded are naturally autocratic with the founding members primarily running the show. Gradually, as the business grows and the headcount expands, the organization begins to take on a different structure with departmental heads and other teams. The top management is unable to keep tabs on all organizational functions and prefer to delegate responsibility and distribute the power of making decisions.

Decentralization: Inspecting the Tradeoffs
Decentralization often comes into picture to tackle the disadvantages of centralization. Although a decentralized command structure does help to overcome the cons of autocratic management such as lack of ownership and authority, as you go down the hierarchical organization structure, it has its own unique set of pros and cons. Let us explore these merits and demerits of decentralization and put into perspective the tradeoffs involved when adopting this management concept.

Advantages of Decentralization
  • The top management and promoters of the firm have distributed the decision-making authority and are therefore, left with more time to pursue the strategy for realizing the organization's long-term vision. Day-to-day problem solving is no longer the biggest concern for the higher-ups.
  • Operational independence makes it easier for the organization to grow overall. Activities such as franchising, diversification and hiring of employees at the departmental levels do not need constant intervention from the top management. Consequently, expansion becomes easier, raising capital and inducting additional workforce become less time-consuming. Decentralization greatly benefits huge organizations spread over several thousand employees and geographic locations.
  • Increased decision-making power directly translates into greater accountability. Local managers and even other employees further down the corporate ladder are motivated to take ownership of their work. Leadership qualities find expression outside the boardroom within the silos and cubicles as well. The overall atmosphere tends to boost employee morale leading to greater job satisfaction than the strict confines of a centralized setup. Grooming future leaders is also much easier in such an atmosphere.
  • There's no longer just one center of excellence in the organization but several pockets of excellence full of talented people spread out across the organization. Authority is delegated at the local level, which means decisions are more informed and accelerated though not always strategic.
  • Decentralized power means greater transparency which in turn ensures that fewer mistakes are made. A decision is usually a democratic and participative outcome and if there's a goof up in progress, chances are great that someone will spot it. While there's ownership of success, decentralized authority also ensures that there are fewer scapegoats. A mistake cannot be mapped to one single person (this can be a demerit under some other circumstances).
  • Perhaps, one of the most powerful outcomes of decentralization is the possibility of open innovation. With talent spread out across all levels and locations and the resulting networking possibilities, bright minds get together with ideas, leading to innovation rapidly. There are no bureaucratic bottlenecks or hindrances to exchange of ideas.
  • In a decentralized setup, it becomes easy to spot the weak links that are consistently affecting the bottom lines. Therefore, it becomes easier to plug the leaks in time and make sure that the lessons learned are effectively conveyed to all other subunits within the organization.
  • The adoption of organizational standards and best practices is also facilitated by a decentralized setup. Transparency in process ensures that it is easy for the various local teams to emulate and adopt the methods and processes that brought success to a team located elsewhere.
  • One of the major advantages of decentralized way of taking decisions is witnessed during a sudden change in the local business environment such as the onset of recession or currency devaluation, etc. Businesses are able to respond and adapt quickly to these changes when authority is decentralized.
  • Retail businesses like Walmart and hotel chains often benefit from having a decentralized style of management. Businesses, where quick decisions amidst fast-paced changes in environment are the order of the day, stand to benefit from decentralization.
Disadvantages of Decentralization
  • Too much emphasis on localized way of taking decisions may end up blurring the bigger picture. As you go down the corporate ladder, employees seem to lose sight of the organizational vision.
  • A highly decentralized organization can be the battleground for unhealthy competition between local managers leading to lack of co-operation and coordination. As a result, interdependent functions may suffer and resolving interdepartmental conflicts is difficult when authority has been delegated. In addition, there is costly duplication of work (activities, processes and outcomes) that may impact economy of scale.
  • Decentralization is not always a good strategy to begin with, especially when the organization is still to find its footing in the market. Pushing decisions down the hierarchy without assessing if those levels in fact have the required skills and capabilities, is a mistake that could prove to be costly.
  • While decentralization promotes the spread of standards and best practices, different managers perceive them differently. Therefore, implementation of uniform organization-wide consistent policies becomes problematic. In case of emergencies that require adoption of organization-wide standards, the diffusion of authority and independent opinions and actions pose a major hindrance.
  • Decentralization often gives rise to an employee population composed mainly of generalists and very few specialists. External specialist consultants often need to be sought when the need arises, further adding to the costs.
  • Work allocation and performance evaluation are not consistent in a strongly decentralized establishment. A subunit that is a cost center ends up getting a raw deal, whereas revenue generating units reap the benefits of a good performance by their subunit. It is difficult to measure the performance of cost centers and the associated employees as they do not generate profits.
  • Businesses like fast food chains such as McDonald's where specialization is important and consistency in service is vital, stand to benefit from a more centralized work culture.
We have seen both the advantages and disadvantages of decentralization. That hopefully makes clear what the tradeoffs could be in adopting this concept in an organization. However, most disadvantages of decentralization can be overcome by controlling the degree nf authority delegated to the lower levels of the organization. Both centralization and decentralization have their extremes which is why, the key is to avoid those extremes and take the middle road. A combination of both concepts and a conscious deviation from theautocratic management style is recommended as a plausible strategy. Striking a balance between how much independence is given to individual business units and what kind of decisions remain under the central command could lead to a successful strategy.